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Honoring Excellence

Since the spring of 2016, Stephanie Saylor and Theresa Tran have been conducting ongoing research regarding the effects of exposure to acidic and neutral water conditions on Procambarus clarkii, otherwise known as crayfish. They have dedicated their time measuring growth changes, testing pH levels, extracting important organs and tissues, and testing exoskeleton strength in order to discover the physical effects of acidic conditions on these creatures.

Saylor, a junior biology pre-physical therapy major, and Tran, a sophomore biology major, are among the eager and honored group of students who will be presenting their findings during Honors Week 2017.

Honors Week, a tradition that has been celebrating the academic excellence of Widener undergraduates since 1992, features daily student presentations, honor society induction ceremonies, faculty recitals, and several other events. Despite the name, the week is not exclusively for honors students, but an opportunity open for anyone to present their exemplary work.

Dr. Ilene Lieberman, director of the honors program at Widener, believes the heart of Honors Week is the student presentations. “Our students do wonderful work in class, but it’s really nice to have a period set aside to showcase individual and collaborative scholarship,” Lieberman says.  “Honors Week highlights the fantastic research our students are doing across the board.”

This year, Honors Week features more than 30 student presentations, including Saylor and Tran, which cover nearly all of the academic majors on campus. Each student participating has been nominated by members of the faculty for their interesting and meritorious work either at a research capacity or end-of-the-year project. Some students are even presenting work completely outside of their major which Lieberman says “shows the range and versatility of our students.”

“Having the opportunity to present my work during Honors Week is a huge privilege,” Saylor says, “I have been conducting this research for about a year now, and am eager to share all that we have discovered.”

Tran is excited to present as well and believes their research is meaningful, not only in its field, but also to other undergraduate students that are able to invest themselves into such an academic opportunity. Saylor and Tran both intend to continue their research during their remaining time at Widener and hope to pass the project on to other interested undergraduates once they leave.